Happy Halloween Part I

I know I need to get back to posting regularly, but I just can't seem to get myself together.

But I didn't want to let the day get away without reporting in on our Halloween festivities.  We finally got around to carving the humongo pumpkin Jenna picked from Gentry Farms a few weekends ago.
Jenna wanted to carve her own pumpkin and so we cautiously allowed it.  Of course, we just let her do the small pumpkins.
We let Kylie help "gut" the pumpkin but she wasn't too sure about that and didn't care much for getting her hands dirty.

So, she played with play doh while we carved (so much for that not liking to get her hands dirty theory!)
In the end, Jenna carved two little pumpkins and I carved the big one (after Steve topped it).  I think they turned out well.

Tonight, I was later leaving work than what I was meaning to be and the traffic was awful.  I managed to get home in time to change clothes and take the girls out.
Here she is dragging her bag across the yard for her first ever trick or treat...
And then here they are with our sweet neighbor, Aimee.  Aimee was so excited to be part of Kylie's first Halloween in the US!
After it was all said and done, even though Kylie wasn't crazy about the whole event, she and Jenna both ended up with plenty of candy.

And once Kylie figured out what all was in that bag...well, let's just say she probably would have gotten more into the trick or treating.


An Open Letter to....YOU

So, this is not at all like me...usually I'm super quick on the thank you notes.  But this time, life has just gotten in the way.  It's not a good excuse, but it's the truth.

We had so many people love on us in a variety of ways while we were in the hospital with Kylie's palate surgery...

Several members of our Life Group brought us dinner when we were home.

We had a bunch of visitors.

We got flowers and gifts.

We received texts, facebook encouragement and blog comments.

There were prayers...

And special nurses who rearranged their schedules to take care of us.

I wanted to send everyone thank you notes because you made one of the hardest things a parent goes through, tolerable.

Unfortunately, it's been 2 months and I now know I'm never going to get around to those notes.

So today's post is for YOU.  It's a public THANK YOU to those of you who:

Brought dinner.
Sent gifts.
Cared for us.

You KNOW who you are.  And so do we. 

And we thank you.


Happy F'all Y'all!

This past weekend, Steve was volunteering at the Sheriff's office all day on Saturday, so I decided it would be a good day to take the girls to the pumpkin patch.  It's been a few years since we've last been because Jenna is a bit too old for it now and we just couldn't fit it in. 

We are about to embark on a bunch of FIRSTS for Kylie and her first Halloween is coming up fast.  Jenna wanted to bring her friend from school, Gracie, so we picked her up and we were on our way.

We went to a local farm which is well known in these parts and we picked a Saturday where a HUGE college football game was being played here (Auburn vs. Vanderbilt).  I intentionally planned the trip at about the same time as the game hoping the farm would be less crowded and it was!
It was the absolutely perfect day too.  It was mostly sunny, not raining at all and in the 60s with no breeze (which can make it so much colder!)
Unfortunately, I had forgotten and set my camera on different settings.  These settings are great for doing close up portraits shots of things that aren't moving, but not so much for the kind of pics I was taking.  And because I had my hands full, I didn't stop to look and realize most of pics were blurry.  I did correct my ISO so they weren't all blown out, but boo on losing most of the good ones I thought I had.  But I did get a few decent shots...

Kylie especially loved the hay ride where she could see the cows (you'll have to trust me since none of the photos turned out) and she was saying "moooo mooooo" the whole way in that high voice of hers.
She liked the corn too.  We just had a good time in general.  The big girls were a huge help with Kylie and most of the time fought over who was going to hold her, walk with her, give her the cup and pose with her.  Poor Kylie is going to grow up with a multitude of "mothers" with all of Jenna's friends!!
We did end up with pumpkins.  Several actually.  Jenna picked the biggest one she could possibly find.  I don't know what we'll carve it into, but I know there will be roasted pumpkin seeds from it and this year I might try to make something with the pumpkin like bread. 

The best photo of the day?  The one I took with my iPhone.  Of course.  God bless the iPhone.
Happy fall everyone!!!



Probably the most asked about thing we've had with Kylie is her sleeping.  We had kind of a bumpy, yet normal, start.

But she's doing much better now.  Most days if she naps, it's going to be in the car.  Whether it's 15 minutes or 2 hours, that is all she does.  She goes to sleep in her bed each night around 8pm though some nights it's later (like the weekends) and whereas we used to tiptoe around the house after bedtime, now we realize she sleeps pretty hard.  She doesn't wake up with the thunder and lightening or minor noises.  We do have the ipod going on low and the humidifier runs all night, mostly as white noise.  Then we have a 30 minute music bug.  Once she's asleep, she usually doesn't wake up till about 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning.

This is an older photo because she rarely sleeps in her bed.  Some weekends I'll hold her until she falls asleep (because I never get to hold her while she's sleeping...the girl is ALWAYS on the go!) and then can put her in her bed.  I will typically sit in her room until she wakes up using a number of excuses, but really it's the ONLY quiet time I get.  And to me, it's the best of both worlds.  I can read, blog, do Bible study, pray AND be near my girl. 
Recently, she's been known to fall asleep in her high chair at lunch.  In this photo, she was trying to finish up her favorite cookie, Nilla Wafers.  She just wasn't willing to part with the cookie!  But Steve did finally get her out of her chair and put her on the couch where she slept for more than an hour!  (and yes, her hair is getting long!  I'm just waiting on it to get long enough to even it all out before we let it grow long).

So, all in all, this baby girl plays hard and sleeps well.  Some days are better than others.  If she has a really good nap, she is usually in a great mood after.   No complaints there.



Kylie enjoys playing these days.  She doesn't much get playing with her friends yet.  There's still a lot of independent play going on.  But she enjoys playing with toys like the kitchen and walks around with bowls and spatulas making smacking sounds like she's eating.  It really is VERY cute.

A few weekends ago, we went to our friend Jill's house for a dual birthday party for our friends Mary Brooks and Wylie.  One of the birthday girl's gifts was a princess castle/tent.

Kylie loved it and I had to practically pull her out of it to leave. I can tell there is going to be one of these on her list for Santa.


In Front of the Camera

If you remember this post, you'll remember I'm attempting to be in front of the camera every once in a while.
I'm trying to get some with my big girl and some with my little girl...I hate looking at myself but I know when I'm gone, my girls will treasure these photos.
And honestly, it isn't about me looking at myself anyway.

Which is a really good thing!


Gotcha Day Video

Today we celebrate 7 months of having Kylie in our arms forever.  And in perfect timing, I finally got Kylie's Gotcha Day video going.  It wasn't as hard as I expected. 

It's about 15 minutes long.  But it's worth it.

I'm thrilled to invite you into Kylie's story.  And take a minute to thank you for being a small part.

I hope you like it.


My Girl(s)

Something happened recently that I cannot wait to share with you all in great detail.  But until I can do that, I'm going to share with as much detail as I can.

Ever since Kylie has been home, I have had the intention of getting our family together for a family photo. 
And when I say "family", I mean our whole immediate family.  Which includes our two Bigs and my one Grand.  The last whole family photo we had was probably when Jenna was little.  When they both agreed, I was ecstatic!!
I set the date months in advance, but then we ran into snags because the sun is going down sooner now and we had to move the time up which created a problem with the Bigs getting off work in time to get ready and get all the way across town.  But thanks to our fabulous photographer (more on her in a later post), we worked out a new location closer to them.

Here's a sneak peak while I was getting ready...

Kylie has a thing about chairs and so when our photographer pulled on out, it was good times...
This was, believe it or not, my Big Girl's first time to meet Kylie.  I wasn't sure how she'd react to Micah, but as you can see, it didn't make any difference.  This girl has pointed at Micah's photo in our foyer for 7 months now, so she took right to her.
I can't wait to see the pictures of my Bigs.  CAN'T WAIT.  Micah is about as gorgeous as you can get and she takes a mean picture.  Chase is so good looking and I can't wait to post all the pictures here.  There are 3 16x20s of each of them, plus Jenna, hanging in our foyer.  Chase's is his Marine graduation (um, OLD) and Micah's is of her high school graduation (she's been out of there for nearly 10 years), so it's HIGH time I get those replaced.
Can you tell these two girls are related???


What's up?

This one is gonna be quick (yeah right) because I need to get some rest tonight.  I've been working hard on something pretty cool that I think you will enjoy and so I've spent too many nights staying up past my bedtime!!  More about that below.

I get the question all the time about how Kylie is doing.  There's a bunch to tell but I never remember to write it down.  Tonight is the night.  :)

Kylie had the croup a few weeks ago.  Luckily we caught it early and so there was no middle of the night coughing fits.  If you've ever experienced the croup, you apparently know exactly what I'm talking about.  Honestly, I'm not 100% certain the doctor was right on that though.  (for the record, we did not see our regular pediatrician because she was a work-in).  At any rate, the steroids they gave her for 3 days seems to get rid of most of the cough. 

We had our follow up appointment today for the rest of the flu shot and Kylie weighed in at 23lbs 13oz which is over a pound more than what she weighed at the doctor visit about 2 weeks ago!  She is apparently going through a growth spurt because she's going to sleep at 8pm, sometimes napping during the day and then sleeping until 8:30 or 9 in the morning.  She's also eating like there's no tomorrow.

Her palate surgery appears to have been quite the success!  She just has the one tiny hole at the front which he left on purpose to allow for growth.  They'll close that up when she's 4 or 5.  She had maybe 4 teeth when she came home almost 7 months ago now (HOLY COW.  7 months???) and she has all but her eye teeth (?) now.  There are several out of place, like her front teeth and one on the cleft side, but for the most part, they look to almost be in the right spots.  I'm starting an orthodontia fund now.

Kylie's speech therapy is going well.  She's working on lots of other words and she is attempting to say words although they don't sound clear to us and so many times it is easier and less frustrating for her to grunt, point, sign or whine for what she wants.  But we are working on it.

We started letting Kylie use a regular spoon instead of the baby ones and it seems to have helped tremendously.  She is also starting to use her hands with some foods (like mashed potatoes) and that is apparently a good tactile activity according to the EI teacher.  It gets a wee bit messy at times...
She has also started taking our hands when she wants something and leading us to it.  It is the sweetest thing.  Like she's saying "Come here!!"

Kylie is now in the 50%ile in weight!!!  That makes this mama's heart happy, although she is still in 12-18 month clothes and size 3 diapers.  It's good because there are a lot of 12-18 month winter clothes that I was thinking she might not get to wear.  We finally had her feet measured to be sure we had her in the right size shoes (we have TONS of hand me downs) and sure enough, size 3 is right.  I sent Steve out to buy her a new pair...
Yep...they are red Converse.  And she can ROCK. THEM.  I was so surprised that Steve would have chosen such shoes, but so very proud of him.  Clearly she thought they were pretty cool too.

He also does a pretty good job at dressing her every day.  This is one of the first fall/winter outfits she's been able to wear.
Kylie also likes to watch TV with her favorite shows being Bubble Guppies, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins and Dora the Explorer, in that order.  She usually watches a few minutes and then does something else, then watches more and does something else.  She'll usually come grab my hand, pull me over to the living room, pick up the remote control and grunt at me with it.
Many of these pics come to me during the day while I'm at work via Steve's iPhone.  I love that he keeps me updated during the day.

The closer Kylie gets to 2 years old the more we see her starting to throw fits when she doesn't get her way.  We sit in time out every once in a while, but usually  not even the 1 minute.  She'll scream and cry for about 15-30 seconds and I'll say, "When you are all done crying, let me know."  She'll usually immediately stop and sign "all done" and I'll go pick her up.  She can definitely turn it off and on.  I think we are going to have our work cut out for her.

In general, she is a happy and hilarious child.  She continues to love the nursery and being around other kids.  She doesn't like us to leave her, but what child this age does?  She only cries a second and she squeals like nuts when we show back up.  It's hilarious and makes me so happy and I really need to video it and post it.

So that's what we are up to.  And guess what?  I have nearly finished her Gotcha Day video!!!!  I am hoping to have it posted on Friday, so please be sure to come back and watch it when you have a few minutes.  If you are not familiar with a Gotcha Day video, it's usually a montage of photos and some video set to music which tells the story of the adoption journey culminating in the moment you get your child.  Ours contains never published before video of the VERY MOMENT I held Kylie for the first time.  You definitely don't want to miss it.  Come back Friday!!!


My Little Cheerleader!

This post is way overdue and so I apologize, but life has happened.

Back on September 1, while we were still in the hospital with Kylie, Jenna had her first ever ballgame to cheer at.  My sweet hubs stayed two nights in a row at the hospital so I could attend the first game.

We stayed at my sister's house in Nashville so we didn't have to get up as early to get to the game.  It was the first and only time we made it on time and got the right field the first try!
I mean.  Is she not the cutest little cheerleader EVER?  And these little 5th graders are pretty good...they did great cheering the team on. 

They won a few, lost a few and ended the season pretty strong.  We were lucky to have decent weather for almost every game and there were only games on the Saturdays in September.  So, it was a great way for Jenna to dip her toes in the world of cheering before diving in. 

The jury is still out as to whether she will continue again in the 6th grade, but if the truth be told??  I kinda hope she does.  :)



This is one of those times where I have to brag about the loving heart of my sweet girl...and confess my own defective parenting.

A few weeks ago, we received word that my dear friend, Elizabeth, would be getting a very special delivery soon.  They were expecting the son she was adopting, Moses, to arrive from the Congo in about a week!

As you can imagine, there was a frenzy of activity including trying to gather the last bit of funding to bring that baby boy home (as an aside, he is home now and you can click above to see pictures of the fine looking boy, if and when Elizabeth ever has time to update her blog with them!).

It was about this time, when one evening, I entered my bedroom after putting Kylie to bed.  Every night, I go there and I'll do some digital scrapbooking, read, watch TV...I have about 90 minutes to myself every day and this is where I spend it and what I spend it doing.  This particular night, I had plans to watch a couple of TV shows that had DVRd.  I only watch a couple shows regularly but due to our China travel, I'd missed the season finales and so I needed to watch those before I could watch the season premiere.  When I got to the bedroom, there was Jenna, on the floor, counting all the money she had saved through the summer doing chores and what have you.  She had saved enough money to buy a hamster, but we were making her wait until we felt she was responsible enough to handle another pet.  Obviously, it was taking a while.  :)

I climbed into bed and cued up my show on the DVR.  But because I wanted to keep the TV low so as not to disturb Kylie, I couldn't hear over the jingling of coins being counted.  I finally got so frustrated with Jenna, I told her how selfish I thought she was to be in MY bedroom making noise while I was trying to watch one of the ONLY shows I watch in the ONLY 90 minutes I get to myself.

Yeah.   I know.  Shining parenting moment.  Just keeping it real here.  And trust me.  It gets worse.  WAY WORSE.

So, she quickly finished counting, placed the money in yet a different container (because keeping it in the same one would be too easy) and climbed onto the bed with me and laid the nearly full container on the bed with her.

That's supposed to read "Yancey Adoption FUND (not found)"

Lord have mercy on this Mama Failure.  A few months ago our church did a series of sermons on Epic Fails and man, I blew that out of the water.  Whatever is bigger than an epic fail, that was ME.

I accused my own flesh and blood of selfishness because she was interrupting what *I* was doing which ironically, was the exact epitome of selfishness.  Had I stopped for 1/2 a second to see what she was doing, I might have been involved in God's direct work in her life at that moment.

How do I know God was working that night?  Because, again, in all my Christian parenting brilliance, I said (with a HUGE lump in my throat), "Oh Jenna...WHY are you giving it all????" and her response???

"Because I feel like God is telling me to."

Period.  The end.  God told her to move and she moved.  No questions.  No doubts.  Not even the blink of an eye. 

She gave all.


Ever notice how God uses our children to highlight our own shortcomings.  How often do I miss a blessing God wants to give me because of my selfishness?  I struggled with not telling her to only give part and that I'd make up the rest.  What about THAT requires faith? 

And I didn't prompt her to do this.  I didn't ask her to give a little.  I didn't even give myself so that she could witness such sacrifice.

$42.  It was ALL she had.  And she gave it.  And she didn't only give it, but she emailed her friends (the ones that had email) and asked them to give.  And had she the time, she would have needled every person she knew to give money to help the cause.  Steve was so touched, he dumped his nearly full change jar in too.

That's my girl.  No...that child-like faith didn't come from me.  It's been God-taught.  She's GOD'S girl.  And my guess is that He was as pleased as I was when He saw her acting on the call He'd laid on her heart.

This mom was humbled.  Again.  As I see the world through her eyes.  And I want to encourage you to share this story.  Not so I can get some recognition because very clearly it wasn't MY influence that drove her to obedience.  But so that in our selfishness, we don't miss the blessing.

In the end, Jenna was thrilled to take this money to the Yancey family and while they also struggled to receive it (how to you accept a gift like this?), they did so with a joyful heart.

And now, Jenna has the privilege of looking into the chocolate brown eyes of a child named Moses that she helped bring home.

She gave all.

And in return...she gets it right back.


Where's Mom?

The link to this story has been reposted multiple times on Facebook over the past few days.  I had it forwarded to me by moms and moms to be eventually :) alike.

I've read the article and it's touched me as it has many other moms.   If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to go right now and read it.

Basically it's an encouragement to moms everywhere to get out from behind the camera and get in front of it.  Because as much as we hate to think about it, we aren't going to be around forever.  And let's be honest, some of us have shorter time than others.  And you just never know.

My mom always hated being in pictures.  She never thought she looked good in them, and I'm much the same way.  She was always more concerned with making sure I was in photos, but definitely not herself.

And when she died at 55 years old, I was only 18.  I have a small photo album of all the pictures she is in.  A SMALL ALBUM.  That's all I have left of her.  Because the pictures in my memory have faded over the last 20 years.  I have a couple pictures of my mother when she was young and I absolutely TREASURE them.  I never got old enough to be curious about my mother when she was young and the opportunity slipped away from me.  I don't want my girls to end up like that.  Sitting around wondering what my young life was like and wishing they had more pictures with me in them.

So, here is my start.  A grainy, iPhone photo of me and Kylie. 
She's eating mashed potatoes and I am already in my PJs (though you can't really tell).  There are others of Jenna and I but we'll save those for another day, another post.

I encourage you...married or single...moms, moms in waiting or moms to be...dads...whoever you are...get out from behind the camera and get in front of it every once in a while.  There are people who love you and want to rememer you living life.



A couple years ago, I start hanging out with my friend Elizabeth.  I met her because I was keeping her oldest daughter in the nursery at church.  She was looking for a buddy to hang with her on Friday nights because she was a football widow since her husband coached high school football.  I would have never imagined how God would interweave our lives in such a way.

Not too much later, God added a sweet friend, Jill, to our nursery volunteers and we ended up a regular Friday threesome.  I love these girls like none other and love their kids like my own.  I think these pictures of our homecoming from China speak for themselves...

And I can't wait for our kids to grow up together.  Jenna has turned into quite a babysitter and Kylie is starting to acclimate.  One Friday night a few weeks ago we all got together and for a split second, the kids sat quietly watching their favorite show, Bubble Guppies.  It's not great quality in terms of photography, but it makes this Mama's heart happy...


Comments on Adoption

I can't believe it's time for another post.  I feel like I just can't get ahead of my schedule.  ARGH.

Today, I wanted to blog about something that's been on my mind.  As I may have mentioned before :), I attend the best church around.  We are a very diverse body of believers and we mostly came by that wonderful diversity via adoption.  From a congregation of about 400-500, we have nearly 30 adoptive families...all races and all stages of the process.  It's an absolute wonderful place to be for adoptive families.  That's not to say it's perfect or without it's own issues.  But I digress.

In fact, I'm not sure where I was even going with that except to say how much I love that body of believers.  Ah, yes...so, my close friend Elizabeth, is about to bring home her sweet son from The Congo.  And because she is so stinkin' close to that, and I love her so much, all things adoption have been on my mind. 

One topic that seems to be a hot button for many adoptive families are the comments they get from strangers.  To me, it seems like so very many of the adoptive families I read about (I follow a BUUUUNNCCCHHH of adoption blogs) are pretty seriously offended at some of the looks, stares or comments by not just strangers but also acquaintances or even family members.

So I thought it was time to put myself out there and weigh in on the subject.


Yep, there.  I said it.  They just don't.  Maybe I am naive and give folks the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe I'm just laid back (never been accused of that).  But mostly, I think that I'm more like those people making the comments than I care to admit and so I am just not easily offended.  I used to be curious about adoption too.  And before I "joined the club", I didn't know some of my curiosity could be offensive.

Now, I have had a couple of backhanded comments about adopting internationally as opposed to through the foster system or domestically.  I'm perfectly open to a discussion with anyone about our choice there.  (In case you are wondering, we chose China special needs because God told us to...in the simplest explanation...so take your argument up with Him).  But I don't appreciate, won't tolerate and don't respect ugly comments about our decision, although I'm happy for you to respectfully disagree.

I'm not really talking about that though.  I'm talking about the people in Target or Wal-Mart or the grocery store who stare, or ask if she's from China or ask if she's adopted.  Or even ask some dumb question.  Yes, they ask in front of her, but first of all, she's too young to understand anyway.  Secondly, HELLO SHE'S CHINESE!  It's not going to take her long to figure out she doesn't look like us, so big whoopdeedeoo if someone asks me if she's adopted or from China in front of her.  Kylie's Asian culture should not be a surprise or embarrassment to her or to us.  I really do think people are simply curious.  We already tell her about her adoption story just like we talked to Jenna about how we came to be blessed with her.  Both of our girls will know they are special and desired more than anything from the earliest they can remember. 

I'm lucky to live in an area where seeing inter-racial families is not that unusual anymore.  But if someone asks me a question about adoption or Kylie or the process, then I'm perfectly happy to answer whatever questions they have.  It just doesn't both me.  The way I see it, the more open I am with them, the more educated they are about something I'm passionate about (and so is God) and I never know where down the road my comments might come into play.

And Kylie is cute.  Like.  VERY CUTE (most days) and so she does draw a lot of attention.  And heck, we go everywhere with a black service dog, so we get noticed no matter what.  In fact, just Sunday, we were out eating at a Japanese Steakhouse and on our way out, a lady stopped me to comment on Kylie's hair.  Turns out, sitting right across the room was her 5 year old daughter home from China since 24 months old.  So you just never know.

In the end, even the stupid questions aren't offensive to me.  Now, I might leave them rolling my eyes and repeating the dumb question, but I won't count it offensive.

Life's just too short.  I love my Asian blessing and if my openness to answering your questions could potentially open up your heart to adoption, well,then, ask away!


A cool meeting (or two) sans photos...

One thing I had meant to blog about when it happened, and because of the craziness, it slipped my mind was the fact that I finally met one of my virtual friends!

I met Kelley online when we were going through the adoption process together.  I can't remember exactly what drew us together, but we did end up thinking we might be traveling at the same time.  God had other plans though and we ended up passing in the sky.  However, like most of my other adoptive friends, we've kept up with each other via FB and blogs.

It just so happened that the time Kylie had her surgery, Kelley was actually in town (she doesn't live TOO far away) at Vanderbilt.  She tried to find us the day of surgery but I think we had just gone back after Kylie was in recovery and so she missed us.  She ended up back in the vicinity a few days later and because we were still there, she came up for a visit!

It was SO COOL to meet her after all this time knowing her virtually!  I didn't have my camera with me and I sure wish I'd thought to take a photo with my iPhone, but I forgot.  I'm so glad to have met her and you know it was so nice to have a visitor to take the monotony out of sitting in the hospital room all day!  Kelley-next time you are in town, let me know!  I want to spend more time with you!!

Also, the day of surgery, we were in the waiting room, when we were pleasantly surprised when an old friend from our home church walked in!  Butch was a very close, dear friend when we were there and he now works at Vanderbilt.  He is as hilarious now as he always was and it was JUST the break we needed while waiting for Kylie's surgery to be finished. 

It's little God-things like these two unexpected visits that got us through that week!